Jan Kilpatrick was born in Glasgow in 1963 and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in English and History. She has explored a variety of roles in her working life, including teaching English in schools and running her own upholstery business, whilst living in such remote locations as Achiltibuie, rural Perthshire and the East Sutherland fishing village of Helmsdale. Currently, the diverse experiences and skills she has acquired along this journey find expression in textile-based artwork. She has emerged as one of the most innovative Scottish textile artists practicing today.
"I am a textile artist living in Assynt, a wilderness area north of Ullapool, full of peat bogs and lochs and overlooked by the formidable mountains of Cul Mor, Suilven and Quinag. My work is steeped in the colours and textures of the fabric of this land, its rocks, earth, skies and grasses. The imagery I use tells the story of a land with a long and lonely past and of the modest presence of its human inhabitants.
As I go deeper into the experience of living with this land I find myself drawn towards using more natural pigments, dyes and print-making techniques as the basis for stitched work. Often, I present lyrical text within or alongside the work, with this combination of image and word allowing me the fullest expression of the thread that connects human experience, both ordinary and sacred, with the natural world within which we dwell."
In recent years, Jan has emerged predominantly as a landscape textile artist and has produced a series of large-format textile wall-hangings, which were exhibited at The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool, in September 2015, under the title of Assynt Sutras. She returned to that venue in the autumn of 2016 when she showed a body of work entitled Marine. This was a joint exhibition with Glagow mural artist and illustrator Chelsea Frew.
Jan has spent recent years further developing her work in relation to the land, in particular the use of natural materials as a medium for print-making. In 2018 she showed a range of textile works alongside Mairearad Green, award-winning composer and musician from Achiltibuie, who has more than a few strings to her bow. They have collaborated before, through song-writing, but this time Mairearad produced paintings full of an energetic expression of the spirit of the north west. They both feel such a strong connection to the land in this part of the Highlands that they believed that their work would make perfect companions. Mairearad said: “Jan has created a unique language of the land through her use of experimental textile techniques. I find layer upon layer of meaning in her work, which maps the journey of this land through deep time all the way to the present.” Jan said: “Mairearad’s intimate relationship with this rugged land, its moody seas and the huge windblown skies above makes for work that is full of expression and movement that both quicken and gladden the eye.”
The exhibition, called Fabric of the Land, took place at The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool, between 26th of August and the 4th of October 2018. Jan returns to that venue in 2021 as one of the 50 artists who will celebrate 50 years of the existence of The Ceilidh Place.
Currently, Jan is working on a textile collection called Earthworks which, along with an accompanying book, she hopes to present in 2022.
Open Studio 2022
Jan's Studio in Elphin is open to visitors from 13th April until 12th October, most Wednesdays, between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm.
If travelling a distance to visit, it might be a good idea to check in advance that the studio is open and that I am not running a course that week.
Private viewings are available at other times all through the year. Please email Jan or telephone 01854 666279 to arrange a time.
See the Open Studio page for more details.